A couple of days ago, the temperatures reached into the 60s. It broke the record for a high temperature going back to 1878. Being curious, I went back to Andrew Peterson’s diaries and checked to see what he had written in March of 1878. By March, Peterson was already tapping the maple trees indicating warmer day temperatures and cold nights, which is what is needed to facilitate the flow of the sap.
March 7, 1878 I began to bore into the maples. Today, I bored into 100 trees. Today, the school has ended its winter term.
Once 40°F hits, trees releases the starches in the form of sap/sugar. However, one must act fast before temperatures within the tree reach 45°F since sugar production will decrease once the tree’s enzymes have recognized the need to produce excess sugar has ceased. From the ideal sap collection temperatures, we can infer that Peterson experienced warmer weather without him having stated as such in his journal.
Were we not to have this useful sap collection record, we also have the State recorded temperatures for the days in Peterson’s diary. A glance at the DNR’s historical recordings detail the following highs and lows:
March 7, 1878: 57 High, 30 Low
March 8, 1878: 61 High, 47 Low
March 9, 1878: 61 High, 50 Low
March 10, 1878: 59 high, and 45 Low
March 11th, 1878 55 high, and 41 Low
While not always in the ideal range for sap collection, temperatures would have often kept within the desired collection range necessary for collection. Should the temperatures have remained at a consistently high enough measure, ~60°F, to start mass bud growth, then sap production would have ceased.
March 8, 1878: Today I plastered in the molasses kettle and we started to cook syrup. The boys are hauling stumps up in the field. The night before last, a couple of Irishmen stopped overnight with us.
Noting that Irishmen overnight-ed with Peterson, emphasizes the melting pot of Carver County. Pre 1900, Carver County immigrants were composed largely of Swedish, German and Irish settlers.
March 9, 1878: I grafted [bound plant tissues together for shared growth] the whole day and finished them all. The boys fanned wheat and oats.
Grafting was a common practice to propagate apple trees. It still is. Peterson often refers to using and buying scions (cuttings) via mail and traveling to Chaska to purchase them. The scions were grafted to the trees to develop a preferred characteristic.
March 11, 1878: I bored 190 maples. The boys chopped wood in the clearing.
Carver County was part of the “big woods”. Clearing trees for fields was an ongoing process. Often stumps were left in the ground to rot and later removed. Chopping wood to use for heating a house in the winter was a never ending process. Can you imagine heating your house with just a cook stove?
Jeffris Challenge Campaign update
For Andrew Peterson, like all of us, spring means work. You may not make maple syrup, but most if not all of us have spring clean-up. On this note, we are pleased to report the successes at the halfway mark of the Jeffris Challenge Campaign for the farm and invite you to join us as we plan for 2021 and a plethora of events at the farm.
We are currently at just over $228,000 in pledges and donations. We are still on target to reach our goal of $250,000 by the end of March. Every pledge or donation, no matter how large or small, is very appreciated. Payments for pledges may be spread out between now and the end of June 2022. This plan helps both the donor and the CCHS plan. Donations of your professional skill or a physical time we can use for the rehabilitation of the farmhouse can also count. For more information contact Wendy at the Historical Society.
The Construction Drawings are DONE!
We are thrilled to announce that the Construction Drawings for the house, granary and south barn have been approved! They will be presented to the public as soon as the final report is approved. Expect to see them in the next six weeks. This project was funded by a Legacy grant. We are greatly appreciative to the people of the State of Minnesota for approving the Legacy fund. Check in on this blog, social media, or our website to learn when you can pour over these eye-opening materials.
Tourist season on the farm
As many of us have found ourselves working from home and yearning for new sights during the indoor months of Winter, this Summer offers a wonderful opportunity to place yourself in the explorative mindset of a late 1800s immigrant, seeing this county’s early days in a new perspective.
Depending on the mud level at the farm, the tentative opening for scheduled farm tours is May 1. Enjoy the warm weather by scheduling a visit to the farmstead, taking advantage of a tour outlining the meticulous and sometimes surprising decisions that went into constructing and maintaining the property.
Coming Events at the Farm- Save the date
October 1- FINALLY, our first fundraiser for the farm! Friday, October 1st at the farmstead. An evening event not to be missed. Running between 6:00pm and dark, we will feature wine/beer tasting, the band Traveling Ground, a silent auction, farm tours, and a barbecue meal. Be the first to enjoy an event in the large loft of the dairy barn. Take a tour, walk the historic farm that Andrew Peterson wrote about and Vilhelm Moberg used as a primary source for his Emigrant book series, bid in the silent auction, and learn first-hand about a Legacy worth funding. A limit of 200 tickets will be sold- more details to come. This is an over 18 only event.
October 2- Harvest Festival- Family FUN with the Scott Carver Threshers meet farm animals, games, food, activities and so much more. Stay tuned for more information
Follow us on Social Media to keep in touch with our upcoming events. Peterson’s impressive 48 year diary is available here for FREE.
Wendy Petersen Biorn
Carver County Historical Society